Archive for the ‘Deception’ Category

Over the past few weeks I have reflected upon and discussed what I believe to be a major issue affecting believers today. I feel it is very pertinent not only to the situations I have written about regarding IHOP but I believe it to be a wide-sweeping idea that is affecting believers at large.

In the western world there is a prevailing Greek mindset which is so deeply ingrained that it is nearly undetectable without close study. There are Greek philosophies and ideas that have so permeated every aspect of American life that we have absorbed them into just being “American”. This nation has become a melting pot of cultures, ideas, philosophies, worldviews, foods, religions, etc. to the point that it’s difficult to define what is in fact truly “American”. Most being traced to another culture, nation, people group, etc. that brought it to the US when they immigrated here.

One aspect of Greco/Roman philosophy and tradition is the compartmentalization of life. It is the idea of categorizing things as a way of keeping them separate to control them independently of their other parts. In many eastern countries, there is no separation between culture, ethnicity and religion. In Israel, for example, the “constitution” or law of the land is the Torah. What Torah forbids is regarded as illegal in the nation of Israel. In the US however, religion and government are separate so that they can run independently of each other and be governed without influencing each other. (for more on the Greek mindset, check out the audio MP3 files on “De-Greecing the Church” on the Research, Links and Sources page.

As part of this compartmentalization, different aspects of life can be grouped under a new heading to be more widely accepted within a culture. For example, a statue of Buddha or other deity kept in someone’s home is now considered art instead of a god because it has been re-compartmentalized under a heading of “Art: statues, paintings, artifacts, etc.” So if you were to point out to someone that they have a Buddhist god in their living room they would say “No, it’s a piece of art we brought back from our trip last summer to India.” It has become cultural and artistic rather than being seen for what it actually is according to scripture: a false god. Whether the owners of the statue bow down to or sacrifice to isn’t what makes it a god. It’s the very fact that it was fashioned into a figure for worship and is acknowledged and worshiped as a deity by those of the Buddhist religion that makes it a god.

This also relates to the practice of Yoga. Yoga, an eastern Buddhist meditation practice with poses of worship to the sun goddess, has been re-compartmentalized and re-labeled in western culture as a “workout” and you can now buy DVDs on how to practice the various forms of yoga right next to the Richard Simmons’ Sweatin to the Oldies aerobic videos. Yoga is encouraged by the medical profession and the health/wellness industry as a great workout for body and mind, many with complete ignorance of the fact that they are promoting a religious practice. See also this link for more on the religious nature of yoga.

There is also an “inner healing” practice called Theophostics which is making its infiltration into Christian churches and ministries which basically teaches that all current negative emotions are simply triggers of past pain from an initial “first memory” experience in childhood rather than the present event which caused the pain, negative emotion, etc. The part that makes it dangerous is the introduction of guided imagery which has the participant go back in their memory to the initial trigger experience, look for Jesus in the room and have Jesus re-frame that experience through the journey made in the mind. Having witnessed and experienced this from a Christian ministry myself in the past I can attest to it’s virulent influence. In his article “Why Theophostics Is Not Biblical” Bob DeWaay writes:

This process is not “prayer” as defined Biblically. Prayer is not asking God for personal revelations about the meaning of first memory events. Prayer is not about getting revelations at all, it is about bringing our needs to God and knowing that He hears us. Furthermore, the process involves tempting God which the Bible prohibits. I say that because it is asking God to involve Himself in a process He has not ordained.

For example, God did not ordain that Jesus jump from the pinnacle of the temple. Had Jesus done so, expecting God to send the angels to catch Him as Satan suggested the Scripture promised, He would have been tempting God. In like fashion, teaching people that their emotional well being depends on identifying first memory events and gaining personal revelations about the meaning of such event makes them vulnerable. They take the leap into the subjective realm and think that God is going to catch them by providing special revelation. There is no good outcome for this process. Either God gives them what they are looking for and thereby reinforces the false teaching that this whole process is Biblical, or He does not and allows them to be deceived by spirits that are all too ready to hand out secret information. It is pretentious and dangerous to ask God to give revelations, the need for which was determined by a man-made psychological theory. The result is that if the process is deemed positive by the person who submits to it, they think that God has put His imprimatur on what amounts to divination.(source)

 

Many people practice yoga because it helps them with certain physical ailments, health problems or muscle injuries. People use Theophostics as a healing modality to address negative emotions and experiences and see results. Here is the clincher though: just because it works doesn’t mean it’s biblical. If false signs, wonders and miracles didn’t work, who would believe them? If psychics didn’t reveal secret knowledge, why would people consult them? There is a dangerous belief that has permeated this culture:

–The secular world says “If it works, it must be a good thing.” So they adopt it into their lifestyle, spiritual practice and thinking.

–The religious world goes a step further and says “If it works, it must be a good thing…and therefore, if it’s a good thing it must be of G-d” This is the free pass given to a whole host of false teachings, practices, etc. that have been checked off as okay simply because they show some evidence of having worked.

As believers and followers of the one, only and true G-d we are not called to pursue that which “works”. We are called to pursue that which bears fruit. The kingdom of darkness can dance and sing and enchant you with things that very well may “work” and produce results in the natural realm but they are deviant substitutes intended to lull you away from the truth of scripture…which is the only thing that produces fruit in the spiritual realm.

I’ve heard Christians argue that yoga can be practiced by believers without actually engaging in the worship of the sun goddess because they are just exercise positions or that because in Theophostic ministry they saw “Jesus” appear in their childhood memory when they were being beaten or raped and he re-framed that experience in their mind that it must be a biblical teaching and legitimate method of healing. In like kind, IHOP has taken the same path by following and promoting the teaching of Catholic mystics who re-categorized transcendental meditation by re-naming it and teaching it as contemplative prayer. TM has been around for centuries and is well known in the new age world by that name but the only way to introduce it into Christian practice is to re-name it and insert the name of G-d and then believers will buy in. Bottom line: this is not how G-d says we are to worship Him. Those who participate in what is widely accepted as another form of worship or prayer by convincing themselves it has been “redeemed” because Christianity improved it then sadly, they have been completely fooled. Borrowing a teaching, belief or practice from any secular religion (paganism, humanism, pantheism, Hinduism, etc, ) and tacking it on to the faith we are called to walk in as believers is to fall into another form of grand deception that has hypnotized well-meaning believers into worshiping another G-d.

It is imperative that we guard our hearts and be cautious about what we attribute to being “of G-d” simply because it makes grand claims of the good it can bring to your life. Consider this: since we know that “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3) then if we seek solutions to our present day struggles from these alternate modalities which introduce a solution that does not lead and point us back to the Father, are we not then allowing that modality to be our savior and messiah? Yeshua (Jesus) always pointed back to the Father so then it would be entirely accurate to say that a teaching, practice, etc that points to another source or solution which leads you away from the Father and glorifies another deity, method of worship, etc. is pure and simple idolatry.

Satan is not without power…even though it is a far lesser power. He has the ability to deceive, seduce and enchant humanity with his myriad of solutions to better your life by looking to yourself and your knowledge, experience and worldview as the source to draw wisdom from. We must be on our guard and carefully filter what we allow ourselves to absorb from our western culture. This is how we are we to be in the world and not of it. We must choose lifestyles of holiness–by what we embrace as well as by what we avoid. We must choose the things of the kingdom of G-d and live as children of light (Eph 5:8) and reject that which pulls us away from Him or seeks to steal our loyalty and allegiance. By this we guard our heart and keep it with diligence. (Prov 4:23)

A number of you have left comments on posts or e-mailed me asking for some pointers or steps on how to pick up the pieces and start over after IHOP. This is a huge topic but an important one so I will do my best to respond to it through illustrations and insights from things I have learned in my own journey.

I know there are others of you that read my blog who have come out of IHOP so please feel free to post your experiences in the comments as well. I certainly don’t claim to have the corner on this and everyone’s journey will be a little different. Each of you have your own story to tell and you will have your own nuggets of wisdom gained along the way.

I will relate things mostly to coming out of IHOP but if your experiences were with another organization these same ideas still apply. These concepts relate to coming out of any form of deception, spiritual abuse, cults, etc.

Please don’t read this as a “how-to” list that you simply check off. I’m not writing this as a 12-step program or self-help therapy. Rather than a spiritual to-do list I encourage you to view these points as overarching themes and priorities to keep in mind. The actual process might look a little different for different people but here are the things I believe to be the most important in coming out of spiritual deception and getting grounded in what is true.

1. Numero uno…and most importantly, remember that He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. Thank your heavenly Father for opening your eyes and trust Him to lead and orchestrate every step in bringing you out of the deceptions, involvements, etc that you have walked in. Life is messy sometimes and solutions don’t come packaged in pretty boxes with bows on top. Since we peer dimly through the filter of our human experience and emotion we don’t fully see any situation perfectly so we must trust the One who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Set HIS Word above the word of any man…no matter how eloquent it sounds or what venue, pulpit or position it is heralded from.

2. Do not condemn, berate or beat yourself up for not seeing it sooner. Condemnation is not part of the road toward freedom. It’s a trap door that drops you into a free-fall of judgment and self-analysis. Trust that the timing of G-d is right and He is perfect, true and just in all that He allows. He chose to open your eyes to the deception/error on His own timetable. Take your hand off the rewind button and don’t play back old experiences through the lens of “if I had only known this then, I would have done this…or I would not have done that…” You can’t judge yesterday’s actions in light of today’s wisdom. You didn’t know then what you know now so you couldn’t act out of what you did not yet know. What you know now however can equip you to make different choices going forward. So when the accuser comes knocking, remind yourself that you can’t change a month ago or 2 years ago but now you do know and you can choose to walk a different road…a road toward what is true because “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”. (John 8:32)

3) Pursue truth at all costs. When something doesn’t line up with the Word of G-d check it, test it, study, ask G-d for greater discernment and trust that discernment when you hear it. Don’t rationalize or excuse away what you hear. Trust that the Spirit of G-d is more than able to lead and speak to you. If you are His sheep, trust that you can know what is His voice. Still test however what you hear/discern/think He is saying but don’t discount it before you do. Don’t swallow any word, teaching, doctrine, scriptural interpretation, etc. you hear just because it sounds good. If a teaching/doctrine, etc. requires taking scripture out of context to understand it or apply its interpretation, run don’t walk the other way.

4) Give yourself time. You probably didn’t buy into IHOP’s doctrines overnight and it might take a little time to detox and sort through what is true and what is not and get your head clear but study what is true and the counterfeits become much more recognizable.

5) Don’t just get in the Word…let the Word get into you. Don’t study for studying’s sake. Absorb like a sponge the truth of scripture and let it permeate who you are. It will be the shield around your heart to protect you from the fiery arrows of deception, doubt, condemnation, unbelief, etc that are sure to fly your way. As you study, ask the Father to illuminate truth so that it comes alive to you and then the things which masquerade as truth can be more clearly recognizable. Read and study scripture in context. Studying in context means seeking to understand the audience, time it was written, who is writing, what was happening in the time and culture in which it was written and how should it be understood in light of the surrounding verses. A silly example of taking a verse out of context would be that if someone read the story of Adam & Eve in the garden of Eden and twisted its meaning and application they could say that G-d forbids eating fruit and we should eat only vegetables and meat. Context matters!

6) Don’t run away from research. Sometimes the thought of digging into something and researching it out conjures thoughts of college term papers and thesis writing. Panic attacks set in and the sound of laptops closing can be heard everywhere. Denial is not bliss but knowledge is power and if you are seeing red flags don’t ignore them. I’m not saying lock yourself away in a room for 6 months and go on a fact finding mission. I’m saying that part of seeking truth is investigating the roots of the tree from whose fruit you have been eating. If you’re wondering whether an organization you’re apart of is exhibiting cult-like behaviors and effects then perhaps research cult tactics and teachings and the side effects experienced by those who come out of them. Be willing to look at the dust that keeps getting swept under the rug. The value in researching is 2-fold: 1) you will often find evidence that backs up what you discerned. You then have that aha moment where you think “wow, I didn’t miss it.” 2) when you come across others who are waking up to deception and they are seeking answers to their questions about such-and-such you will have more than theories or hearsay to go off of…you’ll have some research: facts, dates and actual events, direct quotes and statistics, etc. in your back pocket. It’s not enough to convince someone with mere opinion.

7) Connect with other like-hearted believers who share your love for truth and are on that same journey. Being in fellowship with others who have discernment, who live lives that bear fruit and who speak the truth in love is really important. We were built for relationship and community. Seek healthy, authentic, truth-based, scripturally grounded relationships and communities to connect with. Another key to staying out of deception is being in fellowship with others who can see things that we can’t and who will lovingly illustrate truth by their words and actions.

May the Spirit of G-d continue to lead you into all truth.

Abundant blessings,
–Ariel

As human beings created in the image and likeness of G-d, we are all endowed with these wonderful things called emotions. We have been given the incredible privilege of possessing a very wide range of feelings which ebb and flow in response to the circumstantial climate we are in. Emotions are an internal thermometer inside of us which activates a neurological sensory response to the world around us. We also have 5 fantastic physical senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch through which we interpret our surroundings as well as communicate and interact with others. I realize that this moment is probably not the first time this whole idea has been introduced to you and I imagine you probably already know that you possess these things. No news flash here.

Even though we know these are things we all have built within us and we probably have been using them for a good number of years now, we are by no means experts on what to do with them or what they are really all about. The truth is that because our senses and emotions are things G-d created and put in us, He is the supreme authority on how they were designed to be used. He holds the owner’s manual on our hearts. He knows the depths of our inner person because he formed us and designed each cell and atom to work together in a beautifully orchestrated symphony of anatomical genius. (Ps 139)

In our ignorance, we often misuse these innate little gifts and when used inappropriately they can be highly destructive to our hearts and lives. This is especially true when it comes to our spiritual lives.

The vast majority of what I see being called faith today and what I hear being labeled as a “move of G-d” is rooted not in truth but in experience. Closeness to the Father is measured in feelings, sensations, impressions, “divine hunches” and the way a certain spiritual encounter made one feel. The closer we feel to G-d, the closer we think we are.

Now as I said at the beginning of this post, emotions and senses are truly awe inspiring things but when they are mis-directed or used to navigate our lives and choices, they have a power and will all their own and become fueled by the soulish drives of our carnal humanity. Emotions and senses can be manipulated. They are like the variable “x” in an algebra equation. When they are not under the direction of the Spirit of G-d, by default, they become yielded to the flesh…which is Satan’s playground. When we do not submit ourselves to the L-rd and filter our experiences through the truth of His word, we all too easily will yield to the temptation of trusting what we felt or experienced over what scripture teaches to be immovably solid and true. Emotions, thoughts and sensory experiences that are not completely yielded to the L-rd become loose canons and we will be deceived when we use these highly unpredictable wild cards to navigate our choices and beliefs.

It seems in the present day religious culture of our nation that one can hardly set foot into a service or pick up a book without hearing some very distinct messages about what I will refer to as “feel good faith.” It is in effect not truly faith at all because it is based upon the foundation of personal spiritual experiences and emotions. True faith is to put our total and complete trust in Elohim…the creator and sustainer of all life. It is a trust in the nature and character of the one true G-d who is the same yesterday, today and for all of eternity. It is not a trust based upon feelings, warm fuzzies or senses. We trust because He is supremely trustworthy and binds Himself to His own covenant and fulfills to the letter every word He says He will do. His love and faithfulness are everlasting and He is not like man that he should lie or wake up one day and have a personality makeover.

Having a “faith” built on emotion or sensory-based experiences is like taking refuge in a port-a-potty during a tornado. That sounds ridiculous of course…who would want to risk being pulled up in a cyclonic vacuum? In the same way, how do we expect to withstand the storms of life if we are not rooted and grounded in the truth of G-d’s word and placing our full and complete trust in the immovable anchor of His character? Where did we get the idea that our “experiences” were a safe thing to place our trust in to define reality? How can we prove the accuracy of our experiences when they dwell in the realm of emotional variables?

Herein lies one of the greatest dangers of having an experienced-based faith. It is our human nature to base reality on feelings. If we felt it, then it must be real. We become one with our experiences and when someone disagrees with our experience then they have disagreed with us. Tracking with me? So if our spiritual lives are defined by the “spiritual experiences” we feel in a service and we have decided that because we felt it then it must be real and if we think it’s real then it must have been from G-d then we are now in a dangerous predicament. It’s dangerous because if someone challenges what we are sure we have experienced and that experience is the foundational basis of how we relate to G-d then one tiny kick to the side of our “faith” will send that house made of straw falling down around us. It then becomes a game of my experience vs. your experience.

This is especially sticky, for example, when you encounter a situation where someone has justified a bizarre action or decision with “the L-rd told me to do such and such”. Your spiritual antenna buzzes, a little red flag goes up and you now are in the realm of trying to determine the accuracy of someone’s said experience based on the fruit of their bizarre behaviors.

Here is the other side to this deceptive coin: there is the one who proves their faith by their experiences which automatically creates the flip side of the one who, by contrast, thinks they have no authentic relationship with G-d because they lack these feelings, manifestations, experiences, etc. So if they didn’t feel warm fuzzies or have goosebumps or feel a warm sensation or the like, then “something must be wrong with me.” Can you see what a dangerous dichotomy has now been created because experiences have defined reality?

Like I said earlier in this post, emotions and experiences can be moved and manipulated. You can be having a glorious and wonderful day and feel on cloud nine and one bad experience in a grocery store line, a traffic jam, a hurtful conversation with a family member or a myriad of other life circumstances can immediately and involuntarily alter your emotional state in a fraction of an instant. If natural events can manipulate emotion and change how we feel about our lives (even momentarily), how much more potentially destructive can a change in feeling or experience rock our spiritual worlds when we let that define our reality in G-d?

So if not from warm fuzzy feelings and experiences, where does true faith come from? How do we know if what we are defining our relationship with G-d by is truly accurate?

We must put our wholehearted trust in the nature and character of G-d and allow the truth of His word to be the plumb-line which we measure our experiences up against. In the same way that we hold and handle different things in different ways in the natural, we are to treat spiritual things the same way. The grip you hold on a hammer when you drive a nail or the way you hold the leash on your Rottweiler is different than the way you would hold a baby or catch a lightening bug. In the spiritual sense, we should hold hard and fast to the truth of scripture for it is our foundation. It is strong, solid and immovable. It is what we should anchor our lives to. Teachings of man, warm fuzzy spiritual experiences, prophetic words that people give, etc. we should hold a bit more loosely and open-handed to allow the L-rd to show us what is of Him and what is not. These are the variable factors–not the constants. These are the things we have to test, sift through and watch the fruit of to see if they truly be from Him. Sometimes things that appear to be “of the L-rd” are not. Just because you felt it, doesn’t mean it was reality.

We have a responsibility to diligently guard and keep our hearts in check and filter our emotional and experiential messages through the truth of scripture which is never wrong and will never change. This produces a trust that is not easily shaken because it is built on the foundation of a G-d whose faithfulness never changes, whose love never runs dry and whose character is more dependable than the sun that pierces the horizon and heralds each morning. He is our rock and the fortress upon which we must build our lives. Experiences will change. Emotions will fluctuate. If we evaluate reality based on things that move, then we will totter to and fro based on this variable environment. If we are firmly rooted in truth, we can build a trust that is tried and true and that will carry us through any storm we face in this life.

I received a comment on a blog post today which I hesitated at first whether or not to approve since I am careful about what I allow to be posted on my blog but then decided this one touched on some of the same objections that I have heard at different times and thought it worth opening up in a blog post so that I can address them at once for other blog readers as well. I have made the blog commenter anonymous to protect their identity.

Their comment:

i understand what you’re saying about IHOP, but in all honesty, what right do you have judging their methods? am i saying they’re perfect, and am i defending what they’re doing? not necessarily. what i am saying is that we ALL have common sense that God gave us as human beings, and we ALL have the ability to look at things objectively. i’m not going to sit here and say that i haven’t been helped by the ministry at IHOP, or that there aren’t certain elements at IHOP that can appear to be a form of witchcraft. i’m most certainly not going to judge them for that.

what you have to remember is that IHOP is run by imperfect people that are most likely all dealing with their own sets of issues. just because you or i don’t hear about it all the time doesn’t mean it’s not happening. i know you have first-hand experience in dealing with what happens at IHOP, but then again, i have first-hand experience in seeing people delivered from their sins, and how much of a change that can take place when they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. i’ve never been a proponent of religion, nor have i ever been tossed all over the place trying to find my spiritual “fix”. i prefer to stay grounded in Jesus Christ, and to do as He tells me to do.

as for the manifestations of God, i definitely believe that when a person gets delivered from years of abuse, no matter what form of abuse it is, there will be a physical manifestation of what God is doing in them. my mother told me that she had to be held down by 5 grown people when she was a teenager as she was being delivered from witchcraft and occultism. my mother is only 5 feet 2 inches tall.

i think the main reason why so many people in america don’t understand who God is and what God is really about is because of the spirit of religion that has hung over this country for so long. God isn’t really that mysterious if we just take the time to get to know Him. we may not know and understand why He does what He does, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t make Himself known to us, and that He’s not using IHOP to help so many people that are in serious need. believe this or not, but not every young person’s parents really understand the calling that is on their kid’s lives. not every young person that goes to IHOP has Christian parents that are full of the Holy Spirit. there’s way more young people out there that feel in their hearts that no one else understands them, and it’s because God has placed such a powerful calling on their lives, and there’s no one else around them that can help unlock that calling in their lives.

My reply:

Dear Anonymous,

I generally don’t approve comments like yours because I decided when I created this blog that the comments section would not be a discussion board for people to berate each other and debate opinions. However, I decided to use your comment in a blog post because there are a few things that I want you (and others who read this post) to understand and hopefully I can address your questions and concerns. My disclaimer however is that should any subsequent comments follow (from anyone) that do not a) speak the truth in LOVE and b) address issues by lining them up with scripture without attacking people I will not approve them. So that being said, here is my reply:

In your opening sentence you said: “I understand what you’re saying about IHOP but what right do you have judging their methods?”

There is a clearly stated directive in scripture to believers that we are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves and we have a responsibility to discern what is of G-d and what is not by judging fruit. I address this in a few other blog posts which you are welcome to read for more detail. To blow the whistle on things that do not line up with the Word of G-d or what He has told us to do, how He has told us to follow and serve Him, etc. is part of being a follower of G-d. There is a big difference however between judging actions, methods and teachings vs. judging and condemning people. I discuss that in detail in this post. So you ask what right I have to judge IHOP’s methods? According to Matt 7:15, 20 and Romans 16:17,18 I do have that right because in these verses we are instructed to watch out for bad fruit, watch out for wolves who masquerade as sheep and to recognize & stay away from those who ensnare by false teaching.

2 Timothy 4:3 says “For a time is coming when people will not have patience for sound teaching, but will cater to their passions and gather around themselves teachers who say whatever their ears itch to hear. Yes, they will stop listening to the truth, but will turn aside to follow myths.”

If common sense, which you say that we all have, were all that was required to discern between what is of G-d and what is not then there would be no need for the work of a Savior. I assure you that many have become deceived and have fallen into great error not only through IHOP’s teaching but from various other organizations and their common sense and objectivity is certainly not saving them.

As I have mentioned a few times in various blog posts, G-d can use any place or person He chooses to minister to His people but that place, person or avenue that He allowed to operate is not the source. G-d spoke through a burning bush and through a donkey but that’s because He spoke to His children through where they were at that moment. Of course G-d was able to speak to me and work in my life while I was at IHOP but He ministered to me there because that’s where I was at the time. I can tell you with a great degree of confidence though that it was because I was seeking to hear from HIM and not from IHOP that when I was studying scripture and listening for His voice and what I was hearing at IHOP was not lining up with that, it made the choice to leave much easier because my source for teaching and direction was the Father and not IHOP.

You said that “there are certain elements at IHOP that can appear to be a form of witchcraft but I am certainly not going to judge them for that”. Honestly, that shocks and greatly concerns me. If you can see things that do not line up with the Word of G-d and yet refuse to call them what they are, then by not separating yourself from them, you are remaining involved there and participating in the very witchcraft that you refuse to acknowledge and identify. I pray that the L-rd turns your heart on this one and that you receive boldness from Him to identify and address that which is not of Him. As His followers, we are called to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Imagine what would have happened if the apostles had turned a deaf ear to the false teaching running rampant in their day by saying “Oh yes, he’s a sorcerer but I’m not going to judge him for that.” (Acts 13:8-12)

Yes, of course I realize that IHOP is led by imperfect people. I know of no home, ministry, business or organization anywhere that is run by anything but imperfect people. I assure you that this blog is not an attack against anyone’s humanity or the fallible and imperfect nature that comes from being part of the human race. What I am addressing is the blatant heresy, error, deception and scripture twisting that run rampant in places like IHOP which is leading people by the thousands into following a different gospel. There is a very distinct difference between those who are wholeheartedly seeking to know what is true and are following G-d as He is taught about in scripture (rather than following their own forms, models and methods and calling them worship) VS. those who are clearly walking in error and practicing things that are not scriptural and defending deception by calling it truth. There is a major distinction between those who live a daily life of trusting G-d as their source who are quick to turn from things that do not please Him and who get back up with then fall as opposed to one who excuses their doctrinal heresies as merely “being imperfect” or “just being human”. One is a sincere walk of faith lived out by imperfect people and the other is one who has created their own version of following G-d and are leading others to follow their ministry…and not the L-rd.

A physical manifestation of being set free from something is ultimately to no longer walk in the thing you have been set free from. The manifestation of freedom is good fruit. In scripture, the manifestations of flailing, shaking, falling, being violent, or a myriad of other bodily manifestations were the result of demons being cast out of people. Yes, these are certainly born out in scripture as manifestations of deliverance. However, this is quite different from the obnoxious animal sounds, gyrations and other ‘manifestations’ which many people seek after to “feel G-d” in a service which do nothing but draw attention to self and open doorways into some pretty major demonic practices. In Luke 8 when Jesus cast demons out of a man and sent them into a herd of pigs, scripture tells us that when people went out to see what had happened, they saw the man whom the demons had been cast out of sitting at the feet of the L-rd, fully clothed and in his right mind. That is the manifestation of true freedom.

I do agree with you that religious spirits have blinded many to the truth of who G-d is and what He is really about. We may not always know or understand everything He does but scripture clearly teaches us enough about His nature and character and the heart behind why He does things that there is strong evidence to measure false teachings up against to disprove them as being of G-d.

I do know that there are many young people today whose parents don’t understand them and who may not understand the destiny of G-d on their lives but there is only ONE who does and that is the L-rd (Jeremiah 29:11). The Spirit of G-d is the one who was given to “unlock that calling on our lives” to us as you put it. Everyone I have personally known that has been part of IHOP and left would probably agree with me when I tell you that IHOP’s means of helping to “crack the code on your destiny” and tell you who you are and what you are called to do will always fit right into one of IHOP’s programs. Somehow, all of their prophetic words while I was there lined up with “G-d has called you to be an Anna in the prayer room.” Whatever your gift, it seems they will try to convince you that it will best flourish and be used at IHOP. This is a prime example of what I said about those who lead people to themselves and not the L-rd. The Father has a plan and a purpose for each and every person He has created and He is faithful to complete the work that He starts. One of the things that concerns me most is that many will miss the destiny and calling of G-d on their lives because they are spending hours and hours sitting in a prayer room under a lot of deceptive and false teaching instead of living the life that G-d called them to. That is the most sobering issue of all. Thanks for sharing your perspective and hopefully this helps to address some of your questions and concerns.

Blessings to you as you seek to know the truth and may it set your heart free.

~Ariel

There are some very informational links and resources out there that very accurately address the issue of control (particularly mind control) and how it works (whether it be in a relationship, a workplace, a church or other organization). In this post, I am going to feature a couple of article links that address topics which I find very prevalent in the body of believers today.

One of my blog readers sent me a great link this week which I’m going to pass along to all of you. This article addresses some very common trends seen within cults and “churches” that operate like cults. It highlights topics such as:

The “Super Apostles” and church government
Abusive authority by leaders
The often mis-quoted mantra of “Don’t Touch the L-rd’s Anointed”
“Umbrellas of Divine Protection”
“Thus Saying the L-rd” words, warnings and instructions
Exclusivity
Favoritism
…and much more

I think this article (link above) is very to the point and doesn’t tangent off and hits the heart of some big issues so I will just let you read it in its entirety and omit my commentary on this one. Prayerfully consider the info in the article and let the Spirit (Ruach) of G-d show you any areas where you may be witnessing or experiencing these abuses of power in your own life. As with all sources I refer to or link to, I do not necessarily uphold or endorse that site or organization in its entirety but do want to call to your attention a particular aspect or article of interest. Don’t throw your discernment out the window. Always read everything prayerfully and line it up with the plum-line of scripture.

I also came across an article that contains some helpful information on How Cults Work which helps to distinguish the different types of cults which still clearly fall within that label because of their abusive and heretical practices. It’s an informative read…especially for those who are new to the understanding of exactly how a cult is defined and what the characteristics are to watch for and be aware of.

Those of you who have experienced or know someone who has dealt with any form of addiction can certainly attest to its potent strength and the strangle hold it possesses over the life it claims. It demands what it wants. Addictions must be fed and the cravings will scream so loudly that no amount of willpower will be able to squelch its pleading.

If one is able to hook people by use of spiritual addiction, they can maintain a tighter grasp than even a physical substance can…because we are spiritual beings–made in the image of the G-d who created us. I believe that spiritual addictions are often more difficult to recognize and break free from than physical ones. An illustration I use is that spiritual addictions take hold at the root compared to physical addictions that simply cling to the branches.  Because G-d knows how He made us (spiritual beings created in His image and likeness), He knows what will keep us free as well as what will tie us down in bondage and spiritual trappings.  So He set up a means of protection by giving us instructions in His Word regarding what to believe, what to follow and what to stay away from. Thinking that we are better at knowing what’s right and good for us than G-d is, humanity has very often taken the self-directed approach and as a result those who do will veer off into dangerous waters that they will eventually sink in.

Because I know the powerful effect of hypnosis on the human mind, I have not listened to music produced by IHOP in years. Shortly after I left, I put on one of the CDs I still had from when I was there. The repetitive chanting which IHOP calls “choruses” put me almost instantly into a familiar trance-like state. I felt almost nauseated even just to listen to it. I remember telling my Mom that there was something in the music that I didn’t hear when I was at IHOP but now it was so overwhelming, I couldn’t handle it. I threw out all of the music I owned which had been produced through IHOP. Why am I telling you this? Because unless you understand the power of hypnosis and the way IHOP is using it to fuel spiritual addiction, you will think that their “Harp & Bowl Model” using repetitive chorus lines is completely innocent…which is far from true.

Hypnosis puts you into an altered state of consciousness—making you susceptible and receptive to any message you hear while in that altered mental state.  Don’t just take my word for it–do a little research into how hypnosis works and it’s pretty clearly spelled out. The worlds of psychiatry and psychology use it as a form of “therapy” to help people overcome addictions such as smoking. But hypnosis can also be used to ‘program’ as well as ‘de-program’ the ones it is used on. (many hypno-therapists use it to de-program those who have been in satantic rituals or undergone military mind control)

I refer to spiritual addiction as “the perfect crime” because of the way hypnosis is used to ‘cover up the evidence’ of any mis-deed–making the victims of the abuse look like the ones who missed it and are in the wrong.  I’ve noticed many times when I was assigned to be in the prayer room a glassy-eyed, glazed over look on many people’s faces.  It was like they were locked in some kind of stupor.  I remember thinking after I left IHOP: “Why didn’t I see the deceptions sooner? When did this hook me? How did I get so attached that it controlled me and I defended it so vehemently?” The hypnosis used of that environment is like covering up the finger prints of a crime scene. You don’t remember when things went awry.  You can’t recall how or when you went from being the casual observer who was just attending conferences to the full-fledged IHOPer that would eat (or not eat), breath and sleep their mantras and try to convert everyone you know to sell their homes and move to Kansas City to join this “new” movement. Suddenly I became part of their word-of-mouth marketing department…and instead of getting paid for publicity, I was in fact paying them.

Spiritual hypnosis, as used in IHOP, utilizes repetitive, chanting, mantra-like phrases to bypass the mind (often via music) to touch people on a soulish level because it alters the brain’s waves and affects mood and emotions. IHOP’s theology is largely imparted through music. Because it is sung hypnotically over people…over…and over…and over again, it bypasses the mind and all rational/logical thought processes and is embraced on an emotional level. People feel an emotional connection to IHOP largely because of the many hours spent in the prayer room listening to repetitive music.

Add this to the fact that, for an intern, there was practically never time to be alone or rationally process anything being taught so you would be on sensory overload and find your moods and decisions being altered so rapidly yet it felt like something controlling you…not something you were controlling. Suddenly, life became all about IHOP. No outside friends. No hobbies, activities, etc. outside of IHOP. Time in the prayer room or at IHOP meetings and services became the center of my existence. Whenever I would have ‘negative feelings’ the solution everyone gave was ‘go spend more time in the prayer room’. Life became very small and confined. It happened so subtly I was slowly suffocating and couldn’t even put my finger on why until right before I left IHOP.

Back to spiritual addiction…why is it so dangerous? Because if an organization, ministry, church, House of Prayer, etc. can manipulate the soul (mind, will and emotions) then they can steer your decisions and actions. The soul has no discernment. Discernment is born of the spirit and is a gift from G-d. If you bypass the spirit and connect to someone only on a soulish/emotional realm, false doctrines can easily slip in because they “feel” good and appeal to the emotion. Once we emotionally latch onto something, it’s often very difficult to let go of it.

My prayer for you is that the Father would guard your hearts and minds from the deceptiveness of spiritual addiction and that the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us would be the antidote of freedom from all forms of addiction, abuse, etc.

Why Truisms Aren’t Truth

Posted: January 18, 2010 in Deception, Truth

There is a subtle but important distinction between truisms and truth. Truisms sound true…but at their root, are based in falsehood. Truisms will often appeal to emotion and then are adopted as belief whereas truth is solely based upon the inspired words of scripture and is nourishment and life to our spirit–bringing freedom to our minds and hearts. Truisms have a thread of truth but with a non-truth mixed in.

A simple example:
Truism: G-d helps those who help themselves. (the true part of this truism is in bold)

Truth: G-d helps those who can’t help themselves.

If we had to help ourselves before G-d would help us, then there would be no basis for needing a Messiah to save us. If G-d only helps those who help themselves then the character and nature of the Father is a total lie–making him insensitive, selective with his love and support, and painting a picture of one who withholds what His children need. The truism that ‘G-d helps those who help themselves’ is not borne out in scripture. Rather, many times over, the Word states that the Father is the defender of the innocent, widows, orphans, poor, etc. and that those who call upon Him will find salvation. (Isa 19:20, Ps 68:5, etc.) Scripture tells us that He will not withhold anything good from those whose lives are pure and who walk uprightly (Ps. 84:11)

Why is believing a truism so dangerous? Because when we adopt a system of belief based on things that sound true and make decisions, etc based on them, we alter the course and direction of our lives based on that belief. So using this same example, if G-d only helps me when I help myself then I have to work to earn His help, support, etc. How radically would someone’s life be affected if they held to the belief that they had to work for G-d to do anything for them? They would be “paying for” the free gift of salvation with their own self-driven performance. They would feel the need to “clean up” themselves before they could approach the Father. A downward spiral unravels. One small mis-belief or truism can radically affect our walk with the L-rd because it takes a shift away from what is true and toward what seems right. (Prov 12:15, 14:12)

In this generation, few are taught to study the entire Word of G-d for their theology. Many form their own emotional or new age-based theologies based on what sounds spiritual and then twist scriptures to back them up. Sadly, it seems that congregations are spilling over with baby believers…and I don’t mean those who are new believers. I am referring to those who aren’t growing and maturing in their walk of trust with the Father. There is still a lot of spiritual bottle feeding going on where many are asking a pastor or leader to ‘hear from G-d and tell us what He’s saying’ and not rightly handling the word of truth for themselves (2 Tim 2:15). The book of Hebrews tells us that solid food is for the mature (Heb 5:12-14). Let us study to show ourselves approved and go back to the source…return to the elementary principles of trust in G-d and return to the simplicity of knowing and following Him. We must be on guard against the snares of the enemy that are carefully laid to entrap us.

We must be cautious to not be entranced by the seduction of emotionally-driven “feel good” doctrines that are sure to lure us away from truth and into an emotion-based reality. The Shepherd enters through the gate, he knocks at the door. He isn’t the thief who comes in from another way and entices us with a false, man-centered gospel.

(NEW to the blog: On the blog home page, I have added a new page which lists ALL of my blog posts and their links for easy access. So, if you want to ever look for a title or read an earlier blog post, you can now access them all from that page)